Australian retail sales didn’t get the bounce the industry was expecting in May according to the latest figures by the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) last week. Analysts had forecast that sales would rise by 0 .5% but instead, they lifted just 0.3% in May after having dipped in April.

Department store sales fell strongly by -1.4% and there was no joy for the electronics category from the Federal Government’s $20,000 small business asset write-off announced in the May budget. It also fell by 0.1% despite many forecasters  expecting it to receive an immediate boost.

According to the ABS, in monthly terms, the trend estimate for Australian retail turnover rose 0.2% in May 2015 following a 0.3% rise in April 2015. In year-on-year terms, the trend estimate rose 4.4 per cent.ABS-X


In seasonally adjusted terms there were rises in New South Wales (0.7%), Queensland (0.2 per cent), Western Australia (0.2%), the Australian Capital Territory (0.9%) and Tasmania (0.6 per cent). South Australia (0.0%) and the Northern Territory (0.0 per cent) were relatively unchanged. There was a fall in Victoria (-0.1%). Online retail turnover contributed 3.1% to total retail turnover in original terms.

The ABS estimates that Australians spent almost $24.2 billion in stores during May.

Most  categories suffered…

Newspaper and book retailing recorded the largest seasonally adjusted fall of 3% in May.

However, clothing retailers also struggled, with sales off 1.3%, as did department stores which had a 1.4% slide in sales amid a stagnant trend for that sector.

Takeaway food saw a 0.7% decline, while cafes and restaurants had negligible 0.1% growth.

…except hardware, garden, furniture, food and liquor

However, consumers invested into other home and office supplies with hardware, building and garden up 1.7%  and furniture and homewares rising 1.2%.

Food and liquor retailers also had a strong month in May, with grocery sales up 0.7%, alcohol up 0.6 per cent and specialised food sellers seeing a 0.5% increase in turnover.

“Other” retailing and pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and toiletries also posted solid sales gains of 0.8 and 0.7 %respectively.

In seasonally adjusted terms there were rises in food retailing (0.7%), household goods retailing (0.9%) and other retailing (0.3%). There were falls in department stores (-1.4%), clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-0.8%) and cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-0.2%).